No one paid the two men much attention as they approached the bank. It was around three in the afternoon in a small French town and customers had been coming and going to the cash machine all day. If anyone spared the two a thought, they would probably have assumed they were - just like anyone else - about to withdraw some money.
But then, as the men huddled together around the ATM - incidentally making it difficult for passers-by to see what they were doing - one of them opened his jacket and pulled out a rectangular steel panel. He swiftly pressed it into place over the cash machine’s keyboard (that it fitted perfectly was no accident), and then they walked away.
As it turned out, the two men involved in this particular episode had not been as unobserved as they thought, because a hidden CCTV surveillance camera was recording their every move.
What came as no surprise to the police was that the two men were from Eastern Europe. These days many of their suspects are. Though this was just one small incident, it was actually part of a much wider trend of organised crime emanating from gangs in Romania, Georgia, Ukraine, Russia and elsewhere, which over the last decade has been giving law enforcement an increasingly serious headache.
So what is behind this spread of mafia-style criminal activity from East to West? Who are the bosses and godfathers pulling the strings? And how exactly do they operate?
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